I recently ventured to The Land of Maple Syrup and Candied Salmon with a very straightforward objective: to hang out with the Lush crew at their Vancouver factory. More specifically, the plan was to cover myself in their seaweed glitter, make some of my favorite products, and essentially learn the ins and outs of the brand and its merch.
Who knew I'd be required to wear steel-toed shoes, that I'd be carrying around 40-pound bags of kaolin clay, or that I'd have rainbow snot at the end of the day? Not me, but it was all #worthit.
Here are some more take-aways from my visit.
As You'd Expect, it Smells Amazing
You know how when you walk into a Lush store you're hit by a wall of fragrance? Imagine that, but times a hundred. Fun fact: The Vancouver Lush factory is sandwiched between a manure farm and a dump, but all I could smell was Lush goodness.
It is NOT Easy to Make These Products
If you've ever questioned the price tag of these products or similarly handmade items from other brands, I can attest to the fact that the products aren't easy to make. There are countless steps involved, heavy machinery, and utmost care for hygiene.
Proof: I made Mask of Magnaminty with an employee named Kate, and she truly put me to work.
BTW, my name is totally on this batch, along with Kate's face and name. Let me know if you end up with one!
The Ingredients Are Legitimately Fresh
There's a giant, room-sized fridge on campus loaded with for-products produce. If a product calls for bananas, the employees in the compound department literally mash fresh bananas. If a product calls for kiwi, it's actual kiwi that ends up in the jar. These products are formulated to be self-preserving, and they typically need to be used within 30 days because of the natural ingredients.
Jellies Have Had a Really Good Year
You may recall the viral social media videos of Lush jellies in slow motion. What you may not know is that the jellies have been around for years! Because of those videos, though, they've been flying off the shelves. Pro tip from an employee: freeze your jellies and use them as cooling solids in your bath or shower.
They Have a Mock-Up Store
I don't know why this intrigued me so much, but it did. The factory has a Lush store that's purely there to mock up displays. It felt like a magical, preserved Lush wonderland that you couldn't touch, but wanted to roll around in.
The Bath Bomb Department Is Referred to as "Ballistics"
It was explained to me that you can't exactly walk around airports talking about bath bombs (nor can you really ship out "bombs" without much push back), so Lush came up with an alternate title: ballistics.
The ballistics department is actually located at an entirely separate campus from where jellies, bubblebars, masks and other products are made, and it is a magnificently colorful, heavily fragranced sight to behold.
I got the opportunity to help make various bath bombs, including some of their upcoming holiday products, Northern Lights, Monsters' Ball, Sex Bomb, Lord of Misrule, Shoot for the Stars, Tisty Tosty, and others. I can tell you that there are actual individuals behind each of these products, and the bombs themselves are all packed individually by hand.
There's a Bowie-Inspired Product for the Holidays
Speaking of highly complex products, I'd like to introduce you to Snowie, a Bowie-inspired snowman with two different colored eyes and a lightning bolt across his belly. Every detail is painstakingly rolled, cut and placed by hand.
This was such an insightful visit, and it made me more appreciative of a brand I was already a big fan of to begin with. And yeah... I don't think I'll ever see that much honey or clay or baking soda in one place ever again.
- What's your favorite Lush product?
- If you could tour one beauty brand's factory, which would it be?
- How often do you take a bath, and how often does that bath involve bubbles or bombs?